A veteran project forwarder, Jan Beringer has, through the years, developed much knowledge and expertise on the evolution of project cargo markets in Western Canada from his vantage point in Calgary. Reached by the American Journal of Transportation, the President and CEO of Rohde & Liesenfeld – Roliprojects is convinced that “we have seen the worst of the downturn, and 2017 will offer increasing investment and capital equipment movements.”

Jan Beringer – President and CEO of Rohde & Liesenfeld
Jan Beringer – President and CEO of Rohde & Liesenfeld

For the present, he reports that the project market in Western Canada is still slow. “But opportunities for project forwarding exist in the areas of plant relocation, steel pipe shipments, power plant equipment, port infrastructure and bulk handling facilities and wind energy.” Alberta oil sands companies like Suncor are looking at future investments and there is no doubt, in Beringer’s mind, that oil sands activity will come back to the project shipping sector in the future. (In the past few months, the world price of oil has shown signs of some recovery, approaching US$50 a barrel.)

He reports that R&L has been busy in the area of moving transformers, power equipment, bulk handling equipment, conveyors, E-houses, press units, pipe and plant relocation equipment.

“We are currently relocating 8,500 M3 of power equipment from Saudi Arabia to Houston for a U.S. based client and handling a shipment of used mining equipment involving Flotation Cells from Timmins, Ontario to the port of Yangon, Myanmar for a Myanmar-based client.

“Our separation in 2016 from the Geodis Group has allowed us to open a Rohde & Liesenfeld LLC company in the U.S. and establish a branch office in Madrid, Spain. Our First Nations company Rohde, Liesenfeld and West Moberly Transportation & Logistics GP has been busy bidding on pipeline work in British Colombia and we see increasing activities for the energy sector in 2017/18. The building of the Site C Hydro Dam offers us opportunities in the movement of major power capital equipment from off-shore suppliers.”

Beringer further comments: “We are seeing a trend for engineering companies to shed their logistics staff and this is an opportunity for project freight forwarders to again win back some of the EPC business previously handled in-house.”

He has recognized a new trend for contracting referred to as “Vested Outsourcing” authored by Kate Vitasek of the University of Tennessee which offers the best approach for developing a new way to do business with EPCs.

Beringer also singles out “a trend developing of heavy-lift and break-bulk ocean carriers soliciting and contracting directly with major clients for project cargo movements traditionally handled by project freight forwarders.

“We will have to see if this trend offers value to those clients, where inland freight movements and port handling are the important value added services of project freight forwarders which ocean carriers cannot effectively cover,” Beringer noted before concluding: “This trend may just be a reflection of the current extremely tough market conditions where everyone is battling for less project cargos and price is the main factor for contract award.”